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EXULT IN THE LUSCIOUS FRUITS OF YOUR LABORS

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Summer's the season Grandma makes a kitchen call through her treasured old recipes for fruit desserts. Her thrifty habits of provident living made sure every last morsel of harvest fruit was processed into some sort of dessert.

Whether she called it a cobbler, dumplings, a crisp or a host of other similar terms, Grandma knew how to disguise that same old fruit in a myriad of ways.These traditional fruit and pastry recipes made their way from the old country in the baggage of the early colonists and were passed on through generations of settlers.

Cobblers, slumps, grunts, pandowdies and the like were typical of early New England cookery, a combination of British heritage and the resources available in the colonies. As trade routes expanded, raisins, spices, molasses and even sugar were added to the original dessert concoctions.

The culinary reputation of a New England housewife depended on her baked goods, according to a 1975 story in Gourmet magazine.

"Early New Englanders were, in fact, so fond of these juicy fruit dishes that they often served them as the main course, for breakfast, or even as a first course, and it was not until the late 19th century that they became primarily desserts."

Colonial cooks often called the same dish by several names, for example, slumps, grunts, cobblers and pandowdies were similar. Geographic regions claim one or another as their original creation, but contemporary cooks have refined the definitions, say authors Linda Zimmerman and Peggy Mellody in "Cobblers, Crumbles and Crisps:"

Cobbler - similar to a deep-dish pie and topped with a sweet pastry or biscuit-type pie crust. The fruit is lightly sweetened, tossed with a small amount of thickener and topped with crust that is sprinkled with sugar, then baked.

Pandowdy - similar to a deep-dish pie and first made with apples, seasoned with butter, spices, brown sugar or molasses and topped with a biscuit or pie crust, then baked. The names refers to the last step of the recipe when the crust, after a short baking time, is broken into pieces, pushed down into the fruit and returned to complete baking.

Slumps and Grunts - A type of stove-top cobbler consisting of stewed fruit and feathery-light steamed dumplings that absorb the cooking fruit juices.

Crisps and Crumbles - Lightly sweetened fruit topped with a crumbly shortbread pastry. In Great Britain, the toppings are more often called crumbles because the topping contains rolled oats as well as flour.

Bettys - A cousin to crisps and crumbles, but layered with buttered crumbs and fruit. Today bread cubes often replace the crumbs.

Baked or Steamed Dumplings - Pastries filled with a fruit mixture or whole fruits wrapped in a flaky dough, then baked until the fruit is soft and the pastry is light and golden. Steamed dumplings are made by dropping dollops of dough or batter on top of cooking fruit. The dumplings are steamed and lightly saturated with the fruit juices.

Buckles - Similar to coffee or breakfast cakes and were traditionally made with berries folded into the batter before baking.

Fritters - Made by dipping sliced fruit into thick, sweetened batter and deep frying in unflavored oil. They can also be prepared like pancakes by stirring small chunks of fruit into the batter and spooning onto a lightly oiled hot skillet.

Fools - Thick fruit creams, consisting of sweetened, pureed, stewed or uncooked fruits folded into equal amounts of lightly whipped cream.

Flummeries - Thickened fruit puddings, usually made with berries and highly favored in New England.